How to Make Perfect Shortcrust by Hand or Machine

Rolling out shortcrust pastry
Perfect Shortcrust Pastry Every Time. Jill Ferry/Getty Images
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings or 1 Tart Case
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There really is no need to be afraid of making Shortcrust Pastry, it is so easy. The pastry can be made either by hand or for speed you can use a food processor if you have one. Both methods are shown below, you choose. Shortcrust pastry really is so easy to make despite what anyone will have you believe. It is one of the most versatile pastries as it can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes.

Shortcrust pastry is nothing more than a mixture of flour - usually plain flour or all-purpose - as it is known in the US - and a fat, either butter, lard or a mixture of both. These are bound together with either cold water or with egg for a richer pastry.

To make a successful shortcrust pastry there are a few tips you may find handy, check them out before you start.

What You'll Need

  • 200g  (2 cups) plain flour or all purpose flour (see tip below)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g  (4 oz butter,) cubed or an equal mix of butter and lard
  • 2-3 tbsp very cold water
  • Note:
  • Makes approx 300g  (10 oz) pastry.

How to Make It

Shortcrust Pastry Recipe - Hand Made Method

  • Place the flour, butter and salt into a large, clean bowl.
  • Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, working as quickly as possible to prevent the dough becoming warm.
  • Add the water to the mixture and using a cold knife stir until the dough binds together, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is too dry.
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Shortcrust Pastry Recipe - Using a Food Processor

If you have a food processor, it can speed up pastry making.  I prefer to use a processor as the pulse avoids the over handling of the mixture which can result in hard, dry pastry - a common fault. 

  • Place the flour, butter and salt into the bowl of the processor.
  • Using only the pulse setting, pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Avoid over mixing if you can,
  • Through the funnel on the top of the processor, slowly add the water a little at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Wrap the pastry in Clingfilm / plastic wrap and chill as above in the hand-made method.

Quick Tips For Making Pastry

  1. In the US, use equal quantities of all-purpose flour and cake flour for a lighter pastry.
  2. For more pastry making tips check out Tips for successful shortcrust pastry.
  3. Not sure how much pastry you need - Use My Pastry Calculator
  4. For a richer, more durable pastry - Rich Shortcrust Pastry Recipe